Turn 2 Blog: Bloomquist/Owens Lawsuit and World 100 Predictions


Richard: Well, we’re heading into what could arguably be called the biggest weekend on the Dirt Late Model calendar as drivers and teams prepare for the prestigious World 100 at Tony Stewart’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH. However, as far as east Tennessee fans are concerned, this year’s edition of the big race will be missing something…or as a matter of fact, it will be missing two significant somethings.

Both Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg and Jimmy Owens of Newport will be notably absent this time around at the Big E as both were caught up in the tire doping scandal at that same track earlier this season during the Dirt Late Model Dream and were suspended by the World Racing Group(or UMP, the sanctioning body for that race). It’s particularly significant for Bloomquist to be out considering the monster season he is putting together and would have no doubt gone into the event as a heavy favorite. Further, it would have also been Owens’ first time at Eldora in his new Rocket Chassis.

In your mind, does the race have any less significance with those drivers not taking part?

Michael: Any time you have two of the biggest names of the sport not at a race, it does take away from it to some degree. Those two are certainly in the top-5 as far as fan draws in the Dirt Late Model racing. It will be interesting to see how their absence impacts attendance this weekend.

At the same time, this is the World 100 at Eldora, the biggest name in the sport. There are plenty of drivers trying to win regardless of who or who isn’t there racing. And there are lots of fans that will be there no matter who is there because it is the World 100.

There will also be plenty of back-and-forth among Bloomquist fans and other fans if say a Billy Moyer or a Jonathan Davenport were to win. Many fans may point to Bloomquist not being there since he has been the dominate car there over the last couple of years.

I think all of that, combined with the new tire rule, will make for an interesting weekend.

Richard: I agree. The World 100 is the World 100, no matter who is or isn’t there. The event has to be bigger than the participants or else the sport would wither away when those personalities go away. NASCAR may very well be in the midst of such a thing right now as they experience the absence of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

Perhaps the biggest part of the tire scandal from the Dream weekend was the fact that the track will institute new rules for this race which will require teams to use tires essentially handed out directly from officials. According to several car owners and drivers I have talked to of late, the belief is that multiple new tires will have to be purchased since the teams will not be allowed to work on the rubber before it is bolted onto the car.

The thought is that new tires will provide such a big advantage that going out to qualify or heat race without them would be disastrous. One then has to wonder what impact this new rule will have on the car count. There will be plenty of cars there to compete for the sport’s more prestigious prize, but will those numbers be as high as in previous years?

Michael: I would tend to think the car count will be down this year, mainly due to the tire rule. Pre-entries heading into the weekend were down compared to previous years. That could also mean more drivers are studying the tire rule and will determine whether to make the trip or not.

A number of people I have talked to believe the new tire rule will add up to a lot of extra money. But drivers don’t always seem to use the best sense when it comes to money. After all, this is Eldora and the World 100. Some may be worried about doing any sort of damage to the sport’s biggest race.

Richard: And in talking about the suspended drivers and their respective tire situations, we would be remiss if we did not discuss the lawsuit filed by the five suspended drivers against those involved in running the track and the race itself. According to reports, a suit filed by Scott Bloomquist, Jimmy Owens, Brandon Sheppard, Gregg Satterlee and Ricky Thornton, Jr(or more specifically the car owners for those drivers) is asking for more than $16 million in damages from the World Racing Group and Eldora Speedway.

I am certainly no legal expert and have no way of knowing how this will all play out, but I do know that it could potentially be a defining moment in the sport’s history depending on which side wins or receives a settlement.

Should the plaintiffs get a judgement in their favor or even receive an out-of-court settlement, it could bring every tire disqualification ruling -past, present and future- into question. And all methods used for testing will have to be proven as absolutely valid or the tests conducted using those methods will be considered useless. Further, track and series operators would have be concerned about the possibility of being sued should they disqualify a driver when his tires fail post-race inspection.

While the litigants may simply be concerned with correcting a perceived wrong in this one case, they have likely set in motion a change in the way business is done regarding tires and tire testing. As we have discussed before, the sport looks as if it is heading in the same direction as NASCAR regarding the fact that tires are handed out to competitors at the track on the day of the race in question. This lawsuit will likely hasten that trend.

Michael: I agree. Issuing/buying tires at the track will be coming sooner rather than later regardless of the outcome of this lawsuit. I think Lucas and WRG will see this as an opportunity to be pro-active before things get totally out of hand with both tire altering and potential lawsuits. I’ll be surprised if it’s not for all series races by 2018, once the logistics are worked out.

I’m with you that if the lawsuit judgement goes in favor of the drivers/team owners, you really have to wonder if anyone else will try a similar lawsuit. You also have to wonder how this trickles down to the regional series. They don’t make nearly the amount of money a national series does. Any kind of lawsuit against them would be devastating. I hope it doesn’t come to anything like that. It may come down where each series, national or regional, has drivers sign some sort of form at each race that says tire results are final and there can be no recourse if a tire fails.

Richard: It’s a sad state of affairs when the outcome of any sport has to be determined in a courtroom rather than on the field of play. And that is not to cast blame in any direction, it’s just a statement.

With that said, it would seem appropriate to finish this World 100 discussion off by looking at the race itself. Let’s predict who we think might hoist the globe trophy in Rossburg, OH on Saturday night.

Coming off a weekend in which he scored two Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series wins in Ohio then went on to finish as the runner-up to Bloomquist in the Hillbilly 100, I am going to pick Jonathan Davenport as my driver to win the World 100.

And if I had to select a dark horse who might slide in and take the prestigious trophy, I would think Earl Pearson, Jr. might be that pick. The Florida native had two top-10 finishes this past weekend and was the overall fast qualifier for the Hillbilly 100. Should this race come down to tire management, the Hurricane’s smooth driving style might very well be suited to that type of atmosphere.

Who is your pick?

Michael: My pick is Dale McDowell. He’s run really well since switching to a Bloomquist-Sweet chassis. A dark horse pick is Billy Moyer, Jr as he’s been running well as of late. A sentimental pick is Billy Moyer in what could be his last World 100.

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